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Study Music and Musicians in KS1 and KS2

Julie St Clair Hoare By Julie St Clair Hoare

Help the children in your class develop a love of music through our cross-curricular topics.

Music is an essential part of a broad and rich curriculum, and an excellent way to engage children with a cross-curricular topic. The National Curriculum for England states that all KS1 and KS2 children should be given an opportunity to create and perform music, listen to music across a range of styles and from different historical periods, and explore dimensions of music such as pitch, duration and dynamics. Hamilton interweaves musical activities through our topics, and frequently use music as a way to bring history to life in your classroom!

You can find all of the topics that feature music by looking at our topics for key stage 1, lower key stage 2 and upper key stage 2 and filtering by 'Music'. Below, we have picked out a few of our favourite musical topics to help your class sing, play and dance!

Music Topics for Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and Year 2)

In Carnival of the Animals, we use the inspiring ballet score composed by Saint-Saëns as an opportunity to learn about a range of fascinating creatures. In the introductory block, children are invited to learn about the music, be inspired by the orchestra and explore making sounds. In following blocks, they delve into learning about mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians before concluding the topic with a class carnival.

Explore Carnival of the Animals for KS1

In the music block of our topic Changes in Living Memory, we investigate how the experience of music has changed over the last 50 years. Children look into changes in musical tastes, explore different styles of music, and look at how people experience music both inside and outside the home.

Explore Changes in Living Memory: Music for KS1.

In the composers block of our topic Famous for more than Five Minutes, children learn about the lives and musical contributions of two child prodigies from different eras: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Take part in a fact finding mission to learn about their lives, and then look at how music creates mood and atmosphere. Listen to CATS, learn how to play the notes 'C', 'E', and 'G' on the keyboard, and make musical theatre boxes and characters.

Explore Composers for KS1.


Music Topics for Lower Key Stage 2 (Year 3 and Year 4)

In the Musical Forests block of our exotic Rainforests topic, children listen to and discuss the sounds of rain and rainforest creatures. They explore ways of making music inspired by the sounds of the rainforest, creating rain sticks, pan pipes and xylophones before composing their own music to play to an audience.

Explore Musical Rainforests for LKS2

In the first block of our Mountains, Rivers and Coasts topic, children learn about the formation and features of a river. Inspired by The Moldau, symphonic poems composed by Bedřich Smetana, children develop and refine a river journey dance and then record, analyse and evaluate their performance.

Explore the Journey of a River for LKS2.

Discover the music of the past in our Stone Age to Iron Age Britain topic. Make and play a range of instruments, including a Stone Age flute, a Neolithic drum, and a Bronze Age horn (which can later be converted into an Iron Age carnyx!) Finish with an improvised performance on the prehistoric instruments.

Explore Stone Age Culture and Art for LKS2.


Music Topics for Upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5 and Year 6)

In the music block from our history topic about the Shang Dynasty, children are given the opportunity to find out about the instruments and music of the Shang people. They find modern equivalents to Shang musical instruments and try them out. They listen to a variety of music and examine how the pitch, tempo, timbre and structure communicates story and emotion. Finally, children compose and perform a piece of music inspired by the story of the downfall of the Shang dynasty.

Explore Shang Dynasty: Music for UKS2.

Discover the music of Mexico in our topic block about this rich and varied country. Listen to Mariachi music and identify tempo, beat and rhythm. Choreograph a group dance inspired by Mexican fiesta music.

Explore Mexico for UKS2.

Children are given an opportunity to explore music in many of our other 'Earliest Civilisations' topics. Try the Everyday Life blocks from our Maya topic or our Benin topic.